“I always think of enzymes when I drink a good glass of beer,” said no one ever… apart from Rikke Festersen, Research Director at Novozymes. Yes, that certainly sounds like one of our passionate scientists!

But it’s not such a strange connection to make as one might think…

Malt, hops, yeast and water are all natural ingredients used for brewing beer. But beer has a little helper: enzymes play an important role too, both in the raw materials and brewing process.

The history of beer dates back more than 5000 years – and enzymes have played a part in the brewing story from the start. Even before anybody knew what enzymes were and what they could be used for.

“Enzymes are found everywhere in nature,” says Rikke. “They are like little helpers that start up processes. In our stomach, for example, they help us to digest food. In beer, enzymes help to develop flavor and can also be used during brewing.”

The taste of beer can vary, but by using an enzyme product called Maturex, it’s possible to prevent the formation of a substance called diacetyl, which has a butter-like scent and flavor.

“Maturex prevents beer from tasting like butter,” says Rikke. “On a hot summer’s day, beer shouldn’t taste like Ben & Jerry’s butterscotch ice cream. It should be delicious and fresh.”

Cheers to that!

Geek out with these brewing facts…

1. Naturally-occurring enzymes are activated in the malting process, when the grain absorbs lots of water, causing it to germinate.
2. Then comes the mash. Here, enzymes help to convert starch into sugar, which yeast needs to survive, forming alcohol.
3. In the fermentation, alcohol and the important flavors are formed. Maturex is added at the beginning of fermentation. This means the maturation period can be eliminated or greatly reduced, whilst still ensuring the beer has a nice fresh flavor.
4. Beer foam is an important quality parameter, and the proteins that form foams are naturally occurring in the malt.